N.Y.C. Mayor Says Every Reason to Believe Explosion Was Act of Terror

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Ahmad Khan Rahami is seen in this image taken from video, released by the New Jersey State Police on September 19, 2016
Ahmad Khan Rahami is seen in this image taken from video, released by the New Jersey State Police on September 19, 2016Credit: Reuters

Ahmad Khan Rahami, an Afghanistan-born American sought in connection with a bombing that wounded more than two dozen people in New York City and could be linked to other bombs found in New York and New Jersey was taken into custody on Monday after a shootout, a New Jersey mayor said. 

Ahmad Khan Rahami, in a photo released by NJ State PoliceCredit: Reuters

Rahami of Elizabeth, New Jersey, was taken into custody after firing at police officers in Linden, New Jersey, about 20 miles outside New York, Elizabeth Mayor Chris Bollwage said. A family acquaintance told Reuters that Rahami traveled to Afghanistan several years ago.

Rahami will be charged on 5 counts of attempted murder and gun charges, law officials said.

WABC-TV footage showed a man believed to be Rahami being loaded into an ambulance on a stretcher in Linden, New Jersey. He appeared to be conscious and looking around.

A Haaretz correspondent, outside Rahami's family home in Elizabeth, saw police take away a young man, whom neighbors identified as Ahmad's 14-year-old brother.

Law enforcement officers secure the area where they allegedly arrested terror suspect Ahmad Khan Rahami following a shootout in Linden, New Jersey, September 19, 2016.Credit: Jewel Samad, AFP

The law enforcement official, who was not authorized to discuss the investigation and spoke on condition of anonymity, said two officers were shot in the gun battle.

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said there was every reason to believe the blast was an act of terror, adding that the city will have a strong police presence throughout the week.

The chief of the New York Police said no motive in the explosions was known yet and the FBI said there is no indication if there is a cell operating in the area of the incident.

Investigators believe more people were involved in the New York and New Jersey bombing plots, two U.S. officials told Reuters. 

Earlier on Monday, New York Police had released a photo of Rahami, 28, and said they wanted to question him about a Saturday night explosion in Manhattan's Chelsea neighborhood and for a blast earlier that day in Seaside Park, New Jersey, authorities said. 

The attacks came as world leaders prepared to gather at the United Nations in New York for the annual General Assembly. The Chelsea bombing, coming just days after the 15th anniversary of the September 11 attacks on the United States, put the most populous U.S. city on edge. 

"We're going to have more security personnel than ever assembled over this next week during the UN General Assembly," New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said on CNN. 

"The evidence might suggest a foreign connection," Cuomo said in television interviews on Monday morning. 

In addition to the two incidents, officials are probing a backpack containing bombs found in a New Jersey train station on Sunday, and an unexploded pressure-cooker bomb located blocks away from the Chelsea blast site. 
No one was injured in the other blasts. 

As reports of Rahami being taken in custody were being released, U.S. President Barack Obama said he saw no connection between the explosions and a separate weekend incident where a man stabbed nine people at a mall in central Minnesota before being shot dead. 

He said authorities are investigating the stabbing as a potential act of terrorism. 

The man in the Minnesota incident was described a "soldier of the Islamic State," the militant group's news agency said on Sunday. 

Searching New Jersey home

A Federal Bureau of Investigation poster says Rahami was a resident of Elizabeth, where agents were executing a search warrant on Monday morning after explosive devices were found at a train station in that city, Mayor Christian Bollwage told CNN. 

Rahami was not listed on U.S. counterterrorism databases, several U.S. officials said. A group of men were stopped and questioned in Brooklyn, New York, on Sunday night in connection with the explosions, but their current status was unclear, other national security sources said.

Cuomo said that, while the bombs discovered in Manhattan and New Jersey were not identical, there were "certain commonalities" among the chemicals and technologies used. 

The raid in Elizabeth came hours after an explosive device left near a train station there blew up when a bomb squad robot cut a wire on the mechanism, the mayor said. It was one of as many as five potential bombs found at the site. 

No one was injured in the blast from the device, which had been left in a backpack placed in a trash can near the station and a bar, Bollwage told reporters earlier. 

As many as five potential explosive devices tumbled out of the backpack when it was emptied, Bollwage said. After cordoning off the area, a bomb squad used a robot to cut a wire to try to disable the device but inadvertently set off an explosion, he said.